By Paula C. Squires
The NewMarket Corp. is exploring the possible sale of one of Richmond’s newest corporate headquarters buildings.
Bruce Hazelgrove, a spokesman for the company, said it has retained HFF Inc. (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler), to check into the possibility of selling the 310,000-square-foot, Class A office tower on South Fifth Street that is home to Fortune 500 company MeadWestvaco Corp.
“We’ve hired HFF to help us look at it,” he said of the Dallas-based firm that provides commercial real estate and capital markets services to the commercial real estate industry. However, Hazelgrove added: “There’s no decision that has been made to sell the building. We’ve had inquiries about the possible sale of it. If they’re able to come up with something that seems to make sense, then certainly we would consider it.”
MeadWestvaco, a global packaging giant, moved its headquarters from Stanford, Conn., to Richmond in 2006 and moved into the building in late 2009. Since then, Hazelgrove said the building’s owner, NewMarket Corp., has “had so many inquiries that we felt we owed it to our shareholders to look into it.”
He’s been told that most of the inquiries “are not from Richmond,” but are coming from people “looking for a high-quality property with a high-quality tenant in it, and this pops up on their radar screen.”
NewMarket, a holding company based in Richmond, is the parent company of Afton Chemical Corp. and Ethyl Corp. as well as several NewMarket subsidiaries. It owns the 3.1-acre site in what is known as Foundry Park along the banks of the James River. According to the Richmond Assessors Office, the site and nine-story building are valued at $81.2 million. Originally, NewMarket had planned for Foundry Park to be a mixed-use project with MeadWestvaco as the anchor tenant. However, the economic recession delayed plans to seek retail and other users.
The project, designed by MSTSD in Atlanta, is ecofriendly. It earned the highest rating of four globes from the Green Building Initiative and also is certified as LEED silver under guidelines from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
MeadWestvaco, which reported annual sales of $5.4 billion in 2012, has become an active corporate citizen in Richmond. Earlier this month, it donated $3 million (to be paid over the next 10 years) to help build a basketball practice complex at Virginia Commonwealth University. According to a spokesperson, 850 employees work at the corporate headquarters.
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